"Going In Circles"
Accidentally releasing the source of the collection behind the closed door of the old (rare) book room to be, in fact, a collection.... actually an accumulation... of ‘old’ “rare” books I... sold... onto the shelves?
“EVER?” (“Have you ever?”)... stumbled upon... over and over again... many (“HOW MANY?”) shelves in rooms with book ...men... and book women TOO... where... with one furtive glance and rake-of-eye... “DID I?” “SELL THEM that TOO?”
Crafty as the scampering fox?
Yes I am saying that the... old rare book... selling “I” (‘eye’) SEES the old... sold books upon the shelves within the room and the man at his desk before these shelves of ...old books... (“spine ends”) ‘sitted’. Happy. Greeting. Me. As I return
Time after time to “SAME”
“Place that in a collection”... I did... did I? Remember that there is forty-five years of this ...commercial shelving I ... furtive glancing... SEE... “It is all my doing”; these ‘a good customer’
He is: A good man... and his books
That I sold him.
So that’s the part that gets the most haunting if it were not done so well that my eye of glancing does not notice the conspicuous overload of I selling old books to men who... do not need them but
“Want them”... “ALL”.
“Going in circles?” but that is all I have ever done anyway so this brings a certain sustainable purity to the whole... old... book... madness. “Obsession?” I am? I am a rotten book collector? I am a rotten man? I must be, I suppose. I mean... over and over again and again. Round and round. Then the music stops and
The damn old book is on THEIR shelf. And the music starts again. Round and round again. But this time over here; just a village away. He is as obsessed as He. Both are obsessed as ever. Both actually do “KEEP” forever. They die at their desks with the old books... on the shelves and I
By boxing “it all up” and... “getting rid of the books”. Again.
That last is the real kicker; I see the same books again after forty years of seeing spine ends shelved after seeing them ‘sold’ after
Telling myself I should tell them “Don’t buy THAT. Buy something GOOD”. They never do. I mean: That’s it.
Going in circles.
I told you all this. First how I show up at the visitor’s chair for ...forty years... to, by luck and chance merged with fox craft... purloin the one rare book the room’s THEY may ever find. And now I’ve come back and told you they DO NOT buy true good rare books but buy leavings and table scraps of old (“Fancy THAT!”) books and... they shouldn’t but they do and I do... too... sell them that crap GIDDY with folding the pocket money into my pocket ...again and again (over and over)... for forty years... I see it’s spine end shelved.
Then comes ‘death’ and
“Getting rid of the books”.
“My, my, my. I am a rotten book collector and a... rotten man. Of course this is all very new to you; this ‘going in circles’ with old books... in old book rooms. Your still ‘looking out’ for your ‘first’ ...old book room. “CHANCE UPON IT” you say? But the spine ends will mean nothing to you. Floating bubbles they are before the “eye” (“I”). Think of that; putting them all there one by one for cash... only to have their twinkie little spine peeking back every time “You’ve COME BY again. WHAT have you found? THIS TIME.”
Twenty... thirty... forty... men: Grown men. I have... twenty... thirty... forty YEARS... of smidgeon sipping ‘sitted’ (Part Five, at the end). With them. Is the Devil on the title page or... is the Devil in ME? Well... the curious response from within the room... is that I am... very well received “always”. I don’t tell them they are puttering hobbyists. I don’t say ‘biblio rooms of fools’. I don’t animate. I don’t let on. I don’t. I pleasantly go and come. Set old books down and ‘billfold’ the cost of doing that and they will often tell you privately ...and giddy... “He didn’t KNOW”. Like powdered cinnamon dusted on whipped cream... is the well done... “he didn’t KNOW”. I say. I am a rotten man. You say?
Now pick yourself back up and brush yourself off. There are plenty of old books in the old book forest. Even enough for you. Yes you can put them on shelves yourself and never read them. You can look up their ‘value’ on your smart phone. You may even see an occasional “I like THAT” but most of your ‘accumulation’ will be broad, scattered and miss managed after being... misdirected and.... poorly considered after starting with the killing germ of “I like old books”. An infection that never heals? Apparently. And I have forty years and forty men to prove that.
Think of the infection when selling a rotten book for ‘too much’ knowing ‘they’ll never read it’ and will actually never even ... much of anything with it except, of course, the ritual shelving in the room. Sometimes... I tell you... I am even able to buy one of my damn books back and sell it to the NEXT fellow. Of course the poor man couldn’t ‘remember what I paid you for that’. Neither could I... right? And it didn’t go far. One or two rooms... in the next.... or the next... charming New England village and then... ‘back on the shelf’.
“Peter. Be sure to let Mr. **** in and send him straight back to the room. I cannot hear the bell back there. You know... Peter?” Peter is seventeen. He’s the youngest. He has never touched a book in his life. Academically, Peter has been force marched to school libraries ...his entire life. His sense and appreciation of shelves, spine ends and shelved books is fully formed by his ...forced marches. He has ‘taken’ books out of libraries and... ‘returned’ them. If the notion was ever denoted by him, he would proudly emphasize the self-foundation point that it... ‘is true’ that he has ‘no books in my room’. Not even a heavily illustrated book of ... pirate tales.
I like Peter. He has absolutely no idea that I come to the old book room ‘back there’ to ...take away his allowance money away from his Dad. It would just... never occur to the stupid kid that I “come here” and “go back there” to “Dad’s office” to... yeah: Take his money.
His dad’s a nice guy. He collects books. He tells me. I take him at his word... after my eyes rake the spine ends on the shelves of the ‘his old book room’. I rake. I furtive glance? Not often. Nothing new stacks up in that room except for, like, after a local book auction or a rumor mill tid-bit that “HE” “BOUGHT SOMETHING” “THERE” (local book sale) that is “GOOD”. “Oh do I want to SEE that! I HEARD about it”. I usually can spot it during the furtive glance. Usually... it has not been formally ‘shelved’ “yet”.
You know what’s really cool about this guy...: He buys multiple copies of the same ‘old book’. Any slightest difference is ‘a go’ and even an identical (particularly if it is in a slightest ... but vaguely... ‘better’ condition...) is ‘down the hatch’ too. Those kind of old book room guys are great. I mean... I’ve hammered like... TWELVE COPIES of the SAME BOOK into some guy’s room. Really. If they don’t stop at one (copy)... I don’t stop either.
Peter’s Mom tells Peter to “go back” and “Tell your Father dinner is ready”. It’s hard for Peter to get up off of the sofa in the living room... but he does. At the old book room door, open ‘a jar’, Peter pulls it out and ...’discerns’ is not the right word... that his “Dad” is setting down a ragged old what? On his desk. With one hand. While holding a smart phone in his other hand. “Mom says dinner is ready”. Peter turns and walks away. The ragged old what? is boldly dated “1820” on its.... “cover”. Dad leaves it there and “comes” to dinner. No one ever mentions anything to Dad about... the room. The books. The desk. What he does at the desk. What the ‘ragged old what?’ is. That it is boldly dated ‘1820’. That Dad just bought that. That he knows what it is. That it’s ‘the second one’. That the first one is dated ‘1819’. That this one has the story of the sea serpent sighting in the Cape Ann Harbor in 1817 in it. That... it goes on and on.
And I’m the only one who mentions, talks, pokes, looks at, collates and “LOOKS UP” “any of this” ...with Dad... in his old book room.
Dad doesn’t care. He actually prefers that: that Mom and Peter... leave him alone.